Children suffering from severe malnutrition often are treated with a peanut-butter-based food packed with nutrients and calories. The edible paste has significantly lowered mortality rates, but 10 to 15 percent of children who get the therapeutic food still do not recover, and many die. Those who do recover remain at risk for malnutrition and death when treatment stops.
Now, in two separate studies, Washington University researchers report new findings that are likely to change the treatment of malnutrition and the understanding of its root causes. Both studies were conducted in Malawi, an epicenter of severe childhood malnutrition.
More about new findings
A study of young twins shows that bacteria that live in the intestine conspire with a poor diet to trigger severe malnutrition. The findings suggest that simply feeding malnourished children more food may not make them healthy. More »
Giving severely malnourished children antibiotics in addition to a fortified peanut-butter paste cut death rates by up to 44% compared to the therapeutic food alone, according to a study by Washington University physicians. More »